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Sierra Leone Launches Three (3)  Digital Learning Hubs (DLH) to Boost Digital Skills Acquisition.

The Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI), in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Sierra Leone, has launched and officially announced the opening of  3 Digital Learning Hub locations; at Fourah Bay College (FBC), Freetown, Ernest Bai Koroma University, Makeni, and the Eastern Polytechnic in Kenema. The opening of the hubs comes as a sequel to the opening of the first hub at Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM)  in November 2021.  

The establishment of the hubs aims to address existing challenges of skills gap for young people within the workforce by providing more digital learning opportunities. It also aims to boost the acquisition and retention of in-demand skills for young people intending to enter the job market and cultivate improved learning outcomes for the current workforce.

The Learning Hub will provide a conducive workspace with free access to computers and reliable internet connection. The hub’s registered users will also have access to a wide range of digital learning content via the Learning Passport platform to help learners fully capitalise on available opportunities. 

The Hub will function on a day-to-day management procedure, and operations will be facilitated by Big Bang World, an organisation with experience in the establishment, management and operation of digital learning centers.

The roll-out of these hubs is set to optimise and redefine existing notions about digital education in Sierra Leone meaningfully. The course content of this initiative is tailored to reflect a viable alternative to traditional learning methods and aligns with the broader objective of advancing the Human Capital Development Agenda of the Government of Sierra Leone and its partners. 

The hub at FBC will initially have the eUPSHIFT course available, but will later feature content from HP Life and other organisations.

UNICEF Sierra Leone’s Innovation officer, Janice Williams highlighted the progress made on Digital Innovation.

With the launch of these Digital Learning Hubs, we are making progress to deliver on UNICEF’s ReImagine Education agenda. Making digital platforms, like the Learning Passport, and digital content, such as the eUPSHIFT, available in Sierra Leone, we are taking a step towards making digital learning as one of the essential services for every child and young person.”

Echoing the promise of the hub in transforming skills acquisition and overall professional development of citizens is Vice Chancellor of USL, Professor Foday Sahr, 

We salute the efforts of DSTI and Unicef for breathing life into the aspirations of increased workforce development designed to foster job market competitiveness and reduce skills deficit. We are thrilled to host the digital learning hub and we are certain that its use will be maximised to its fullest potential” – Professor Foday Sahr.

Want to know more about the Learning Hub or how to be a member? Go to [https://www.dsti.gov.sl/portfolio/dlh/

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DSTI Organises First National Tech & Innovation Essay Competition For Primary & Secondary Schools

Recognising that young people are an important part of the ongoing national digital transformation drive, the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation organised its first National Tech & Innovation Essay Competition. Created with the aim of getting school-going pupils to address thought-provoking topics which highlight the role and importance of tech. in our everyday lives, the submissions were inspirational.

The essay writing contest itself was set up to complement the government’s free quality education program by encouraging young writers to demonstrate their writing talents. With the express aim of providing a platform to help young people exercise their creativity and critical thinking, the pieces unearthed young writers with a broad range of skills. This similarly reaffirms the Directorate’s commitment to enlisting young people as a sounding board for measuring the impact of DSTI’s digital solutions and human capital interventions.

A total of 203 essay submissions were received from across the Western Area and these went through an initial screening exercise jointly conducted by the Ministry of Basic Education’s delivery team and DSTI personnel to select the best … (x) essays. Upon completion of this, the best essays were forwarded to the judging committee for grading. This committee comprised a seasoned group of academics and educators including Dr. Yakama Manty Jones, Dr. Albert Dupigny, Dr. Mohamed Kamanda and Ms Miriam (insert surname). 

After being judged and graded, essay scores submitted by every judge, for each essay, were then collated to give an individual, total score, for each essay submitted. At the end of this process, the worthy winners were; 

Victoria Mambu came in 1st place with 72%, Salieu Bangura. 

2nd place with 66% and Eric Dura Sesay came in 3rd place with 61% for the secondary school category.

We congratulate the winning pupils on this commendable feat and hope this serves as an inspiration to others who could not take part in the inaugural competition. Speaking on the essence of the competition DSTI’s Communications Lead; Mariama Khadija Rogers-Mansaray emphasised that “Bringing DSTI to the people of Sierra Leone remains a compelling priority. This competition was devised so young children can transmit our message of hope and possibility to their communities. We’ll stop at nothing to build a future we can be proud of.”

When quizzed on the next steps, she confirmed that as part of its public outreach program, there are plans to host an inter-college debate contest later in the year. This will serve to further inform the public about the groundbreaking interventions ongoing at DSTI and how these solutions are already shaping a sustainable future premised on radical inclusion.

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NATIONAL YOUTH INNOVATION CHALLENGE

Generation Unlimited Sierra Leone (GenU SL), an initiative spearheaded by the Ministry of Youth Affairs supported by DSTI and UNICEF, aims to develop young people’s educational and entrepreneurial portfolio, is set to launch a NATIONAL YOUTH INNOVATION CHALLENGE.

The Generation Unlimited National Youth Innovation Challenge calls on young innovators to design solutions to improve education/life skills and youth unemployment. The Youth Innovation Challenge is intentional in situating youth as leaders and drivers of our country’s development and provides for new structures and mechanisms to accelerate the empowerment of youth which make up over 40% of Sierra Leone’s population. 

This innovative challenge directly aligns with the priorities and implementation of the revised National Youth Policy. The revised National Youth Policy (2020–2025) is rooted in the President’s vision and commitment to harness the potential of Sierra Leone’s youth population for national development. 

Minister of Youth Affairs, Mohamed Orman Bangura at the Launch of the GenU National Partnership Committee.

“Government remains committed to putting youths at the center of its development agenda. A National Youth Challenge represents our hope for a prosperous future in Sierra Leone pioneered by youths” – Mohamed Orman Bangura, Minister of Youth Affairs.

The National Youth Innovation Challenge aims to inspire, provide opportunities, and support young people between the ages of 12 and 25, especially those disadvantaged by poverty and lack the resources to bring their ideas and creativity to life. 

The National Youth Innovation Challenge welcomes young people between the ages of 12 and 25 regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, or disability to form teams and participate in the challenge.

Successful applicants will be invited to participate in Human-Centered design workshops. Following these workshops, the five most promising ideas will be selected and awarded a cash prize of  1,000 USD each as seed funding and provided with mentorship and technical support for project implementation. Projects selected should be completed by July 2022. In addition, a Pre-Bootcamp workshop will be hosted in December 2021. 

The two most promising solutions from Sierra Leone will be submitted for consideration in the Global GenU Youth Challenge.

Interested applicants can apply https://bit.ly/GenUSLYouthInnovation

Applications will be open from the 28th of October 2022, and the deadline for all submissions is the 27th of November 2022 by 5:00 PM GMT.

For more information, contact us via email at genunlimited_sl@dsti.gov.

Or by phone SMS/text the word GENU to 2080 on Orange or Africell for FREE 

More photos of the launch

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Sierra Leone’s Chief Innovation Officer to participate in BBC CrowdScience Debate

Dr. David Moinina Sengeh, Sierra Leone’s Chief Innovation Officer, will participate in BBC’s CrowdScience debate on the theme: “Can digital technology transform West Africa?”. The debate will be held at the British Council Tower Hill Auditorium in Freetown on Friday 24 January at 5:00 PM. This is part of national activities planned by the Government of Sierra Leone as part of the International Day of Education 2020.

Joining Dr. David Moinina Sengeh in the debate on how artificial intelligence is changing West Africa is Dr. Chika Yinka- Banjo from the University of Lagos and Ms. Nyalleng Moorosi from Google Artificial Intelligence in Ghana. These experts will explore how robots, drones, and machine learning tackle issues in agriculture, education, health, and governance in the sub-region.

BBC CrowdScience is a radio show that takes questions about life, Earth, and the Universe to researchers hunting for answers at the frontiers of knowledge. This will be the first of such debates held in Sierra Leone. Entrance for this event is free with registration. 

Crowd science opens up pathways for pursuing unconventional research ideas, blurs the boundaries between institutional science and civil society, provides opportunities for volunteer engagement in science, and enriches science communication. Crowd science also raises questions concerning data-driven approaches to scientific discovery as well as the development of mechanisms for automated quality assurance and feedback.

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Sierra Leone’s leading agencies for data, innovation sign MoU for knowledge ​sharing

The Directorate Of Science, Technology, & Innovation (DSTI) has signed a MoU with Statistics Sierra Leone (Stats-SL) to formalize ongoing collaborations on projects of national significance. The two agencies were lauded by the Minister of Planning, and Economic Development (MOPED), Mrs. Nabeela Tunis for combining their expertise for the advancement of the State.  

Dr. David Sengeh (l) CIO, DSTI, Madame Nabeela Tunis, Minister of Planning & Economic Development (MOPED), Prof. Osman Sankoh, Stats-SL, Mr. Robert Chakanda Dep. Minister, (MOPED)

“DSTI and Stats-SL are already implementing terms within the MoU showing their commitment to providing the Ministry of Planning with necessary data to make policies that will have a measurable impact on the lives of Sierra Leonean citizens,” said Mrs. Tunis.   “It is clear that there are minimal overlaps, meaning that the collaboration is efficient. The Ministry of Planning welcomes and supports this partnership.” The MoU is a commitment by both agencies to share information, and knowledge that will strengthen the problem-solving capacity of statisticians and data scientists at both organizations. “I already know this is a true partnership because even before DSTI showed any results using data we shared, they came to us to present the information. We jointly asked research questions and provided input into the analyses, ” said Prof. Osman Sankoh, Sierra Leone’s Statistician General. ”That’s what true partnership is about!”

Prof. Osman Sankoh, Statistician General (l) and colleagues with Dr. David Sengeh (r), Chief Innovation Officer, Directorate of Science, Technology & Innovation

The two agencies have made inroads on projects ranging from an integrated national GIS solution to map government services and an interactive education dashboard that will allow policymakers to see how different indicators and facilities affect learning outcomes across the country. Mr. Robert Chakanda, Deputy Minister, MOPED, provided guidance and leadership to DSTI, and Stats-SL to ensure that projects are in line with the national agenda. By sharing data, Stats-SL enables the Data for Decision Making pillar of DSTI Sierra Leone. This partnership also further strengthens the innovation ecosystem across government and international development partners. “This is essentially a Memorandum of Action because DSTI and Stats-SL have already been working together on several projects and developed prototypes together,” said Dr. David Sengeh, Chief Innovation Officer, DSTI. “I hope that we continue to share not just data, but also the knowledge that will drive Sierra Leone’s development through action.” President Julius Maada Bio commissioned the  Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation in October this year. One mandate of DSTI is to transform Sierra Leone into an innovation nation.
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